Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Bill Clinton Goes Vegan

110929_Clinton_VeganFormer President Bill Clinton speaks with CNN's Sanjay Gupta about becoming a vegan.

Former President Bill Clinton made waves during the annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting this month by sharing that he had gone vegan for health reasons. The former president, notorious for eating fatty foods and McDonald’s Big Macs, now dines solely on fruits, vegetables, and legumes – and likes it. In an interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, Clinton said, “I like the stuff I eat. I like the vegetables and fruits. I like the beans.”

While President Clinton went vegan for health reasons, eating a mostly vegetarian or vegan diet could also help alleviate the causes of climate change, according to many food advocates like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Ann Cooper, and others. Mark Bittman, a house favorite on the Bread Blog, gave a compelling TED lecture in December 2007 on this very issue. As a confessed meat eater, Bittman proposed that Americans try to curb the harmful effects of the beef industry by eating less meat for social justice and global survival:

Eighteen percent of greenhouse gases are attributed to livestock production. How much livestock do you need to produce this? Seventy percent of the agricultural land on earth, and 30 percent of the earth’s land surface is directly or indirectly devoted to raising the animals we all eat, and this number is predicted to double in the next 40 years or so.

There is no good reason for eating as much meat as we do, and I say this as a man who has eaten a fair share of corned beef in his life.

He goes on to admit that while he will never stop eating animals, he will advocate that people stop raising them industrially, and stop eating them thoughtlessly. He asks progressive people to vote with their forks by eating less meat, less junk, and more plants.

The most important takeaway for me here is that food and hunger issues are incredibly complex and intertwined, and require all of us to choose carefully what we put into our grocery carts, refrigerators, and bodies. Yes, there is the issue of personal health, as Bill Clinton exemplifies. But there are also the issues of greenhouse gases, climate change (from which the most vulnerable members of our global community suffer most), global food insecurity, and more.

Have you made conscientious decisions with your daily diet? Share your stories in the comments section below.


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Great post. Our family has done a slow move toward eating less meat. The meat we do eat is pasture raised, and the eggs are cage free, so we are trying to do our part. My sudden diagnosis of lactose intolerance this summer has moved us closer to vegan ways, as I search for non-dairy meals that my whole family will love (and hopefully not miss the yummy lasagna and other cheese-laden meals). I truly think that any diet change like this has to be slow and thoughtful, at least when feeding a family. You can't change everything at once. Maybe one new product in the shopping cart each week?

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